PESHAWAR: Adopting a tough stand against the presence of Afghans in the province like the Balochistan government, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has called for the early repatriation of refugees.
The provincial government feels that the Afghan government should now take responsibility of its own people because not only the presence of a large number of refugees on its soil has ‘overburdened its meagre resources and infrastructure’ but they are involved in major crimes as well, said an official document.
After the US drone attack in Noshki district on May 22, Balochistan home minister Sarfaraz Bugti had said, “Afghan refugees would now have to leave… it is up to them whether they choose to leave honourably or get thrown out by people of Balochistan.”
Sources said KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak would take up the issues related to refugees with the Afghan government during his scheduled visit to Kabul.
Special assistant to the chief minister on information Mushtaq Ghani told Dawn that Mr. Khattak was likely to visit Kabul after the province’s budget for the next fiscal was presented in the assembly.
“The KP government has a very clear stand on Afghan refugees. The federal government should review its agreement with Afghan government and send refugees to their country in a dignified manner,” he said.
Islamabad’s new border management policy has overshadowed the already uneasy relations with Kabul.
Pakistan has banned the cross-border movement of the people without valid documents to the annoyance of Afghanistan and its citizens.
The official document disclosed that 2,582 suspected Afghan nationals had obtained Pakistani Computerised National Identity Cards through unfair means, while 1,411 Afghan refugees or nationals had purchased land and houses in the province.
In addition, the document said, 1,064 Afghans are employed in Afghanistan, including with Afghan National Army and the police, but their families live in Pakistan.
Currently, around 1.5 million registered Afghans live in Pakistan. They all will lose the refugee status if the federal government doesn’t extend their legal stay beyond June 30.
Kabul recently asked Islamabad to extend the stay of Afghan refugees until 2020.
The document said being a frontline province of Pakistan in the war against terrorism, major brunt of the war was being faced by KP in the shape of the continuing violence.
“The whole fabric of the society in this province has been shattered. Socio-economic effects are irreparable,” it said.
The relevant officials said currently, KP hosted around 62 per cent of Afghan refugees living in the country.
They said around one million registered refugees lived in KP and of them, 45 per cent lived in 43 refugee camps and the rest in urban and semi-urban areas.
The officials said besides registered refugees, around 0.6 million Afghan nationals, too, were residing in the province without legal documents.
They said the long stay of Afghan refugees in the province had not only a negative impact on socio-economic fabric but damaged the infrastructure as well.
The official document revealed that major crimes like murder, kidnapping for ransom, carjacking, narcotics and smuggling were committed by Afghan refugees, who also harassed and threatened local traders through calls from Afghan SIM cards.